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WKSU, our public radio partners in Ohio and across the region and NPR are all continuing to work on stories on the latest developments with the coronavirus and COVID-19 so that we can keep you informed.

FDA Grants Battelle Request To Sterilize 80,000 N-95 Masks Per Machine Per Day

Battelle employees process N-95 masks in the Critical Care Decontamination System.
Battelle employees process N-95 masks in the Critical Care Decontamination System.

The Food and Drug Administration has given the go-ahead to Columbus-based Battelle for its full request to sterilize 80,000 N-95 surgical masks per machine per day, after issuing a letter earlier in the day permitting far less. And it comes after pressure from Ohio officials.

Ohio reported a total of 29 deaths from COVID-19 Sunday, up from 25 Saturday. And the state confirmed 1,653 cases of coronavirus, up 17% from the day before. 403 people have been hospitalized, 139 in intensive care. A total of 24,376 people have been tested. 

Gov. Mike DeWine said he’d gotten the word early Sunday that the approval was just for 10,000 masks per machine per day. DeWine called that “reckless”, and called President Trump to push for more.

“We’re frantically trying to get enough of these masks, and we have a solution, at least for part of the problem, in that we can clean 80,000 of these every single day. Free us, let us go do it. And sometimes you just have to say it that way to get things moving," DeWine said.

DeWine said he wasn’t sure why the request had been limited to 10,000, but said bureaucracy could be the culprit.

“Sometimes you just have to rattle it. And that’s true with the bureaucracy anywhere. That’s the truth with bureaucracy in Columbus, in Ohio, it’s the same. Sometimes you just have to say, this is really important. And the reason it’s important is that we have to protect the people who are on the front line. We don’t have enough of these.”

Read more about the process here.

Though other governors have reported problems with Trump, Dewine praised him and later thanked him in a statement and on Twitter.

Battelle will be able to sterilize 160,000 masks each day with two machines in Ohio, and has machines to send to New York and Seattle.

Copyright 2020 The Statehouse News Bureau. To see more, visit The Statehouse News Bureau.

Karen is a lifelong Ohioan who has served as news director at WCBE-FM, assignment editor/overnight anchor at WBNS-TV, and afternoon drive anchor/assignment editor in WTAM-AM in Cleveland. In addition to her daily reporting for Ohio’s public radio stations, she’s reported for NPR, the BBC, ABC Radio News and other news outlets. She hosts and produces the Statehouse News Bureau’s weekly TV show “The State of Ohio”, which airs on PBS stations statewide. She’s also a frequent guest on WOSU TV’s “Columbus on the Record”, a regular panelist on “The Sound of Ideas” on ideastream in Cleveland, appeared on the inaugural edition of “Face the State” on WBNS-TV and occasionally reports for “PBS Newshour”. She’s often called to moderate debates, including the Columbus Metropolitan Club’s Issue 3/legal marijuana debate and its pre-primary mayoral debate, and the City Club of Cleveland’s US Senate debate in 2012.
Karen Kasler
Contact Karen at 614/578-6375 or at kkasler@statehousenews.org.